Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I’d dreamed of being a writer ever since I was very young. Growing up in rural New Jersey, I discovered fiction as a fantastic way to be somebody else and have adventures. After a while, I not only wanted to escape into these incredible worlds, I wanted to create my own for others to enjoy. I produced my first novel back in the 1990s, which never saw the light of day. After lucking out with publication with a small press in 2001, I kept at it until I wrote a zombie novel on a lark before zombies got big, and the rest is history. The success of my zombie fiction got me an agent, which got me into Big 5 publishers like Simon & Schuster and Hachette. I also self-publish series of short, pulpy WW2 actioners, which are a lot of fun and are very popular. It’s been a very long and hard but ultimately gratifying and humbling journey.
What inspired you to write your book?
The Children of Red Peak is about a group of people who grew up in and survived the horrific last days of an apocalyptic religious group that transforms into a cult. Years later, they reunite to confront their past and the entity that appeared the final night.
I love stories that turn tropes on their head or examine their consequences, and this novel does both, examining a cult from the inside in the past timeline, where the major characters are children, and then showing the pain of surviving a horrific mass death, where it’s now 15 years later. As a psychological thriller with cosmic horror elements, the novel is really about the trauma of survival and how belief can produce a great amount of moral goodness but also madness and evil, with a slippery slope in between.
The original inspiration came from a reading of Genesis, where God tells Abraham to bind his son Isaac on a remote mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Abraham does it, only to be stopped at the last moment. And I thought, what if that story were told from Isaac’s point of view?
What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Thematically, it’s about a number of things—family, faith, memory, belonging—but the the overriding theme is that madness and belief are two sides of the same coin, and we have a tendency to think of our relationship with the divine as being on terms we can control and that favor us. Interestingly—and disturbingly—some of the cosmic horror element in the book is really about that cosmic horror being found in conventional religion, which is treated with utmost respect in the book but also questioned by taking its claims seriously. A significant message in the book is that wherever there is chaos and emptiness, humanity’s hunger for meaning will eventually ascribe that chaos and emptiness with meaning and a story.
What drew you into this particular genre?
I’ve always loved speculative fiction—horror, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic, you name it—because it lets you take ordinary people and challenge them with extraordinary circumstances. You push somebody to the limit, you really find out what they’re made of, and that revelation also says something about human instinct, which is real, and human morality, which is the story we tell ourselves about who we are and want to be. In The Children of Red Peak, there is a cosmic horror element, but the real horror is in good people doing evil because they believe it is a path to paradise.
If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I’d ask one of the characters who possibly ascended where they went and what it was like when they got there. I poured my own yearning for meaning and knowledge of any type of existence after death into the story’s aching soul.
What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Probably Facebook. No reason for that other than I’m just more comfortable with it. I don’t like creating a persona, which is what you’re supposed to do as a writer to get people to like you as an author distinct from liking your work, but I’ve never been into that. On Facebook, I decided to just be myself, and I value the relationships I have there because they’re real, or at least as real as you can get on the Internet.
What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Be as prolific as possible, pursue every path to publication with what you do produce, and hope for that X factor in publishing to go your way and create a hit that will lead to more opportunities. The X factor might be described simply as having the right book at the right place at the right time, and there’s unfortunately no way to predict that. Note that success is not an either/or thing, it’s a ladder with dozens of runs, and that there is no objective definition for success anyway. In my view, if you poured your heart out to write a story, you’re a writer and you’re a success, only now you’re ready to challenge yourself to climb the next rung of the ladder.
What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I’ve been very happy producing these “dime novel” WW2 action series, and I love the model so much I’m looking to produce two such series in 2021, one dealing carrier aviation in the near future, the other dealing with carrier aviation during WW2. At the same time, I’m talking to Hachette to see if I can get some fresh and interesting novel concepts percolating.
Thanks for having me as a guest, Anthony!
(It Was My Pleasure Craig! Thank you for sharing your wonderful book with us.)
About the Author
Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.
In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.
These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.